Facing a worldwide consumer market that appears to be losing interest in tablets, Apple is looking to revive the fortunes of its iPad line by teaming up with companies that develop business and productivity apps. Apple is working with more than 40 tech companies to create new apps aimed at boosting the iPad's appeal in the workplace, according to reports.
Global tablet sales have been declining, and Apple's iPad hasn't been immune from the trend. The company's latest financial data shows that iPad unit sales dropped by 18 percent between Q3 2014 and Q3 2015, while iPad revenues fell by 23 percent.
Flagging tablet sales can be attributed in large part to "little hardware innovation and limited vendor portfolio updates," according to IDC. Apple's under-the-radar "mobility partner program" is reportedly aimed at changing that picture by providing enterprise users with a new suite of interconnected apps for accounting, sales, retail operations and other business tasks.
100 Mobile Apps with IBM
As business users become increasingly untethered from their offices, technology companies are looking for new ways to bring once-deskbound applications into the mobile landscape. It's an especially promising area for Apple, which -- while not a leader in the office desktop environment -- has a commanding presence with iOS as the enterprise mobile operating system of choice.
While it appears to be keeping many details of its mobility partner program under wraps, Apple has publicly shown its interest in that space in other ways.
Last July, the company unveiled a new partnership with IBM aimed at developing "a new class of business apps" to transform enterprise mobility. The two companies have so far released two waves of iOS enterprise apps focused on the special needs of sectors like banking, energy, government, healthcare, industry, insurance, retail, telecommunications and travel, with a total of 100 apps expected to be available by the end of this year.
Other firms are also looking to take advantage of the business potential of Apple's newest device, the Apple Watch. Last month, for example, Webfortis and Microsoft unveiled a new app for Dynamics CRM and Parature that can be used on the go by Apple Watch owners to create service tickets, check accounts, view how-to articles and handle other tasks.
Building Enterprise Appeal
Apple's latest partner effort aims to "make the iPad a more appealing work tool" with the help of business-focused software companies like Revel Systems, which makes an iPad-based point-of-sale system for retail users; ServiceMax, which develops mobile field service management software for iOS and Android devices; and Xero, a provider of cloud-based accounting software, according to an article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal.
Other companies teaming up with Apple for the program haven't been identified, but some have reportedly been invited to participate in sales events usually open to only Apple employees or firms that have been training members of Apple's enterprise teams.
Apple remains the global leader in tablet sales, well ahead of both Samsung and Lenovo, which are in second and third place, respectively, according to IDC's most recent Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, published in July. However, other companies such as LG, Huawei and E Fun are grabbing an increasingly larger segment of the market, one sign of a wider shift taking place in the tablet space.
"Longer life cycles, increased competition from other categories such as larger smartphones, combined with the fact that end users can install the latest operating systems on their older tablets has stifled the initial enthusiasm for these devices in the consumer market," said Jitesh Ubrani, IDC senior research analyst for Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers, in the report. "But with newer form factors like 2-in-1s, and added productivity-enabling features like those highlighted in iOS9, vendors should be able to bring new vitality to a market that has lost its momentum."
Posted: 2015-08-14 @ 2:03pm PT
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